Posts Tagged ‘mafia’


This sprawling, shocking novel revolves (mainly) around three fictional characters, but is rooted in the time of the Kennedy family’s rise to success – it features JFK campaigning for and winning the election and his brother Bobby becoming Attorney General. The events of the novel take us right up to that fateful date of 22nd November 1963.

The main characters are Pete Bondurant, bodyguard for the eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes as well as a terrifyingly effective Mob associate; Kemper Boyd, an FBI Agent who at the request of J Edgar Hoover infiltrates the Kennedy organisation and finds his loyalties (such as they are) split many ways; and Ward Littell, another FBI Agent and anti-Mob crusader. Lets be clear here – none of these men are particularly nice, but they are interesting. In fact, none of the characters in this book – real or fictional – come off particularly well, least of all John F Kennedy.

The story describes the machinations of the Kennedy family and their associates in making sure that JFK wins the election, and covers such historical events as the Bay of Pigs invasion, and attempts to bring down Fidel Castro. There’s so much story here that it was sometimes hard to take in everything that happens – whether you are familiar with the events upon which the book is based or not, this is a book that really demands your attention.

The writing is visceral and brutal and the story is fast paced, with loyalties of all characters constantly being questioned both by the readers and by other people in the story. Despite the concentration required, it’s actually a pretty easy read with mainly short, choppy chapters, which tend to show events from alternating points of view.

Overall, if you are interested at all in what happened to John F Kennedy and who killed him – this book offers a fictionalised theory – then I would definitely recommend this, but be aware that it is not a cosy afternoon read!

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This is the fifth book in the Inspector Montalbano series.  It’s not essential to have read any of the previous books to understand what is happening, but I would recommend it, as the characters have been developed over the series.

In this installment, Police Inspector Montalbano finds himself  heading up an investigation into a young playboy.  At the same time he finds himself dealing with the disappearance of an elderly couple.  Initially there appears to be no connection between the two crimes, but when it discovered that all three people lived in the same apartment block, Montalbano’s suspicions become aroused.  His investigation takes him and his team into dangerous territory involving the Sicilian Mafia.

As is the case with all of the books I have read in this series (so far), the case is interesting, but it takes a back seat to the interaction between the various characters. Salvo Montalbano is an irritable, grumpy man who feels that he is being left behind in a word where technology is taking over.  However, he has amazing intuition and a terrific sense of humour, as well as a deep sense of honour.  His interactions with his detective team – particularly the hapless Catarella and the smart Augello  – are amusing and believable.

The book (and indeed the series) also paints a vivid picture of Sicilian life and culture. It’s a light read, but an interesting one.  This series has not disappointed me yet!

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This was my 20th book this year, and the second one in the Salvo Montalbano series, by Andrea Camilleri.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it is definitely one of my favourite books so far this year. Montalbano is a gruff, sometimes bad tempered, Inspector, with a penchant for good food and wine, and deep morals, as well as a wry sense of humour, and a very intuitive mind.

This book sees him hearing the dying words of a powerful member of the Mafia, which leads him to a hidden cave, where he finds the body of a young couple, who have been dead for at least 50 years…the whole scene is being watched over by a life size terracotta dog.

Montalbano becomes wrapped up in trying to identify the dead couple, and understand how they came to be in a cave, and the significance of the terracotta dog.  His investigation takes him to some dangerous places, and places his life in peril, but he is determined not to give in.

The book really paints a picture of Sicilian life, and the characters really seem to come to life.  Additionally, you can almost smell the gorgeous food which Montalbano is so fond of, coming off the page!

Terrific writing, quirky characters and a hugely enjoyable read.  Highly recommended!

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